Judy Garland reminded us that over the rainbow "the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true." Here are three dreams from over my rainbow. You might dream these too!
#1 - What if Jews who believed in Yeshua [JBY] really lived Jewish lives, walking in the patterns of Jewish tradition, but with the marvelous something and someone extra of Yeshua-faith and the amazing spiritual influx that was typical of the earliest days of the Yeshua movement?
- The biggest obstacle by far to Jewish people taking our faith in Yeshua seriously is the widespread assimilation of JBY. When the perceived effect of coming to believe in Yeshua is that Jews forsake Jewish life, fail to return to it, or relate to it in a token manner, such that their grandchidren will grow up to say :"I think my Grandpa was Jewish!" then we make the message of Yeshua to be patently ridiculous, because even assimilated and secularized Jews have a right to say, "What kind of Mashiach is this that makes gyoim out of Jews?" It is a devastating argument. And the facts of Scripture dictate that such an objection is entirely valid. The Messiah is supposed to bring Jews back to Torah, not institutionalize its neglect.
- The Risen Messiah is the One who sends forth the Spirit of God, whom I term the "in the meantime God," because Yeshua presents the sending of the Spirit as an adequate compensation for Yeshua's physical absence until He returns. Our generation has substituted spiritual shtick and mannerisms for the reality of the Spirit such that there are certain stereotypical behaviors that are inevitably expected as evidence of the Spirit's influence, as for example, hands in the air. Of course, in Nazi Germany everyone had their hands in the air, and it meant nothing about the presence of the Spirit. Still, we ought to be eager for the Presence of the Spirit manifest among us, not in self-aggrandizing spookiness, but in making manifest the reality that we are, through Yeshua, experiencing a foretaste of the Age to Come, which our tradition terms "ha yom she-kulo shabbat"-- the day that is altogther shabbat.
- In the famous New Covenant passage of Jeremiah 31, there are three realities which are meant to come into sharper focus and deeper reality for us:
- Engagement with Torah - The New Covenant is meant to bring a deeper engagement with Torah, NOT a disengagement as is generally the rule
- Relationship with God- Our relationship with God is meant to be always growing, a relationship which should be characterized by honoring and obeying HIm, and wrestling with him about the realities of life
- Forgiveness of sins, which inevitably means connectedness to Yeshua our sin bearer and Great High Priest. Yeshua is not dead, he is alive, but most of us are satisfied simply to believe in his atoning death and coming return with no sense of what it means to grow in relationship with Him. Paul reminds us that that growing relatiionship includes "the fellowship of his sufferings," learning to be sacrificially committed to the things that matter most to him. How are we doing in that department?
#2 - What if Christians didn’t feel threatened by Messianic Jews returning to Jewish life and community, not denouncing this by speaking of “rebuilding the middle wall of partition,” but instead realized that living within the norms of Torah and tradition is part of God's call upon all Jewish people, including Messianic Jews? What if?
- It is a sad residue of a wayward theological history that for the most part, Christians are threatened by or critical of JBY who seek to live Jewish lives. The Second Council of Nicea termed this "mortal sin," and even today, in general, too many Christian communities and individuals at best dont know what to do with this, while some denouncce this as "coming under the Law" and dangerous to one's spiritual health, in fact, a mortal sin--one that could well cost one his or her salvation. But what if it wasn't like that? What if?
#3 - What if JBY respected and supported Christians in their own service of God, encouraging them in their walk with God and never adopting a superior or denigrating attitude toward Christian worship and tradition? What if?
- Elitism is cocaine for the ego, and many are addicted. Although by no means universal in Messianic Jewish circles, there are too many people who naively look down their noses at the Church. Ironically, many of these who do so are Gentiles who are attracted to the Messianic Jewish Movement who feel themselves to therefore be more enlightned than the communities they left behind. This is wrong: whether you are a Jew or a Gentile, it is wrong to have a patronizing and condescending attitude toward the church. The world would be a better place if these attitudes were foresaken and repented of. Instead we ought to be fans of Christians seeking to honor God in their lives and their communities.
I am reminded of the words of Scholem Asch, the great Yiddish writer who flourished in the 1930's and 1940's. In his splended essay, "One Destiny" he said this:
I, as a Jew, whose every move is bound up with the God of Israel, want to know nothing of any historical wonder, of any faith, save only the wonder and the faith which radiate from the God of Israel. The wonder is revealed to me in two ways: first, the miracle of the preservation of Israel; second, the miracle of the spread of the Judaeo-Christian idea in the pagan world. The whole thing to me represents a single, divine event. I see in both phenomena the single will of the God of Israel. Not only because I consider my Christian brothers as the spiritual children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also because I see in pure Christianity an entirely justified share of faith in the God of Israel--through the Messianic idea--equal to my own Jewish faith. The preservation of Israel and the preservation of the Nazarene are one phenomenon. They depend on each other. The stream must run dry when the spring becomes clogged, and Christianity would become petrified if the Jews, God forbid, should cease to exist. And just as the spring loses its value, becomes spoiled and moldy when it has lost its mission and does not water the stream, so would Jewry itself become petrified, barren, and dry if there were no Christendom to fructify it. Without Christendom, Jews would become a second tribe of Samaritans. The two are one. And notwithstanding the heritage of blood and fire which passionate enmity has brought between them, they are two parts of a single whole, two poles of the world which are always drawn to each other, and no deliverance, no peace, and no salvation can come until the two halves are joined together and become one part of God.
Whoever works, strives, and desires that this may come to pass is on the side of God. Whoever does otherwise belongs to the other party.
This is my spiritual credo. On this foundation I have built my house. For this I have sacrificed everything. With it I stand and with it I fall.